Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (21/08/11)

It's very rock'n'roll

Share
Related Topics

John Bercow has sensibly left the country while his wife makes us flinch on Celebrity Big Brother. But, I'm sorry to report, the Speaker has also been embarrassing himself. On Friday, he delivered a speech in Delhi in which he declared it was his first time in India. But, according to my files, he previously visited India in September 2007, during a fact-finding mission to Burma. He visited the region of Mizoram, one of the "Seven Sister states" of north-eastern India, while travelling with fellow Tory Baroness Cox. Yes, four years is a long time in politics, but isn't that what researchers are for: to, er, check facts when memories fail?

An MP is joining hunters on a controversial mass slaughter of 2,000 baby gannets this weekend. Angus MacNeil has set sail for the remote island of Sula Sgeir, where the ritual of bludgeoning guga chicks to death with rocks takes place every August. The SNP member for the Western Isles has endorsed the hunt, saying it has "legendary status", despite repeat calls for the 500-year-old practice to be abandoned. Every summer, 10 men spend 10 days harvesting the birds, which are prized for their rich oily meat. The chicks are hoiked out of their nest with a pole, then bashed over the head with a stone, one by one. The Scottish SPCA brands the practice "cruel". MacNeil first made headlines as the MP who triggered the cash for honours scandal in 2006, by joining Martin Bell in lodging a complaint against Labour to the police. He was later forced to apologise after snogging two teenage constituents. Some people welcome MacNeil's backing. The local mantra goes: "When the English stop killing five million turkeys for Christmas, we'll stop catching guga."

Wiltshire MPs have been engaging in a spot of competitive column-writing in their local newspaper. Claire Perry, the former banker and Tory member for Devizes, has seized the opportunity for some swanking, telling us the Perry family is spending the recess on the shores of Lake Tahoe, on the California border with Nevada. Top swanks! Over the page, meanwhile, the Lib Dem MP for Chippenham, Duncan Hames, has written a piece headlined "No time for a summer break in my constituency". He piously says he's using the time off "visiting businesses and community organisations and hosting my regular surgeries – all made more practical by not leaving for London each week". As the economy freefalls and businesses close, I wonder who will fare better come the election.

Ruby Wax is living in a weird ménage à trois while performing at the Edinburgh Festival. The comedian, who has generated gags out of mental illness for her show Losing It, tells me she has moved into a broom cupboard to get some rest while living in a vast Georgian mansion. Sharing the house is the co-star of her show, Judith Owen, whose husband, Harry Shearer, was once Ruby's boyfriend. Shearer's is the voice of Mr Burns and Ned Flanders in The Simpsons, and he also co-wrote and performed in the 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap. He later married Owen, a Welsh singer-songwriter, now Wax's best friend. Only the house's proximity to a main road was keeping Wax awake at night. "I've never been as happy as I am in my closet," she tells me. "It's like a womb. In fact, it's a better womb than I had originally."

Graham Norton has become an enthusiastic dog-walker since acquiring Bailey, a labradoodle, and Madge, a terrier cross, six years ago. The TV presenter can often be seen exercising them in the parks near his London docklands home. So, no doubt, he will be joining neighbours who oppose proposals to erect a 6ft fence around Hermitage Riverside Memorial Garden, a peaceful park dedicated to victims of the Blitz, and one of his favoured haunts. The plan is to stop the trend of excitable young men meeting there in the evening, but residents oppose shutting the park at night. "We saw off the Luftwaffe during the war," huffs one. "So we're quite capable of seeing off a few youths."

Olivia Wilde has impressed the makers of Cowboys and Aliens, a new film starring Daniel Craig, by doing her own stunts. In a chase scene, in which an alien lifts the 27-year-old off a galloping horse, she did the riding herself (the alien was played by an actor). Her bravery and acting may make up for other deficiencies: Wilde politely apologised at the Locarno premiere of the film "for not speaking any Swiss". A co-star gently suggested that French, German or Italian would do.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas